National Museum gets head — with Ayodhya connection — after a year

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Buddha Rashmi Mani, a former Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official who had led a team that excavated the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in 2003, has been appointed the director general of the National Museum. The post has been vacant for a year after the abrupt transfer of Venu Vasudevan last April.

The appointment could lead to a political controversy, observers said.

Mani was in the eye of a storm after a report he submitted said there was evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a temple existing under the Babri Masjid, which was demolished by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992.

Mani was later removed from the post after the Allahabad High Court ordered he be replaced. He had retired as the ASI Additional Director General last year.

According to an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved Mani’s appointment as the National Museum head for three years or till he attained the age of 70.

The post was being held by Sanjiv Mittal, a joint secretary in the culture ministry, as an additional charge.

Vasudevan’s overnight transfer last April had invited flak from many quarters, including the art fraternity, which charged the Narendra Modi government with trying to saffronise cultural institutions. His tenure was to expire in December 2016.

Vasudevan was credited with reviving the museum with many innovative plans during his one-and-a-half-year tenure.

In an interview to IANS in May, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma had maintained that Vasudevan’s transfer was a routine administrative process and was “a part of the government’s plan to bring in new talent”.



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